Italy have continued the shocks in the Rugby League World Cup downing Scotland by 28-4 at Kingston Park in Newcastle on an artificial surface.
This match was one that brought together the two perceived sides that would fail to make the knock-out stage. But, these sides were trying to prove the doubters wrong with a strong showing here today in the battle of the ‘Big Blue' (as both sides worse distinctively blue kits).
After an opening of ten minutes that ironed out the rust and errors from both sides. Scotland had the first opportunity to score, but as would be a trend in this match, Calum Gahan spilt the ball at the final moment. Off the ensuing set, Italy pounced to cross for the first try. It was a great kick from Radean Robinson and his kick was rewarded with a strong chase, Luke Poiselli wins the race to ground the ball just inside the touch-in-goal line which are very narrow in English stadiums.
Coach Leo Epifania wouldn't be happy with the Azzurri's discipline, giving away four penalties in the space of four minutes. Luckily, the Italian players avoided a spell in the sin-bin and helped avoid a try being conceded on their own line. Off a reliving penalty of their own, the Azzuri made the Scottish side pay for falling asleep around the ruck as Dean Parata sprinted out of dummy half to give the Italians a 12-0 advantage.
Fortunately for Scotland, the margin could've been so much worse with the Italians bombing several scoring opportunities. Jake Maizen will be having nightmares about that dropped ball over the line for the rest of the tournament. Things went from bad to worse for the Scots when captain Dale Ferguson was sin-binned for striking Dan Atkinson's calf before half-time, the score-line didn't change though with Italy leading 12-0.
Ferguson's sin bin would hurt the Scotland side at the beginning of the second half and Leo Epifania's side continued their parade of success. Jack Campagnolo had his hands in everything and set Maizen away down the sideline and the winger was able to redeem himself from his earlier howler. Even when Ferguson returned, the Italian dominance continued. Four minutes after crossing for his first, Maizen had a second when it was silky skill from Poiselli to get it onto Maizen who tip-toed down the sideline to cross for his second to give his side a 22-0 lead.
From there, the second half deteriorated into a sketch from the Benny Hill show. Both sides had prime scoring chances but kept getting in their own way at the critical moment. In the final ten minutes, both sides finally remembered the fundamentals of attacking footy. Maizen had gone from villain to hero, racing 90 meters to score off a scrum deep in their own half to secure his hattrick. Off the ensuing set, Scotland recovered the short kickoff and was able to cross for their only try when Lachlan Walmsley got on the outside of Richard Lepori, but it was consolation for the Scots in the final analysis.